The Electric Fence in Wildlife & Predators


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Wolves and coyotes are carnivorous and survive by preying on weaker
and slower species, including domesticated herd animals. They
frequently hunt in packs and disregard traditional fencing.


A properly installed electrified high-tensile fence can provide protection
from these predators.


Due to wolves and coyotes very thick, insulating fur, a low impedance
fence charger that can maintain 4,000 to 5,000 volts on the fence line
should be used.


Tip: You may want to use bait to condition predators to avoid the fence.


Permanent Fencing Designs for Predators

A 7-wire permanent high-tensile electric fence with wires spaced equally
6" – 8" apart and a height of 42" to 54" high is commonly recommended
for deterring bears and wolves. In special situations, a 9 or 11-wire fence
may be necessary.


Wolves and coyotes also dig to reach their prey, which requires the bottom
electric wire to be placed not more than 6 inches from the ground.


Wildlife experts recommend the following permanent fencing configurations
to deter predators:


7-wire design, 42" fence height – This design works well to deter both
grizzly and black bears while still allowing deer and elk to safely pass.

7-wire design, 54" fence height – Primarily used to deter grizzlies, black
bears, and wolves, this design is used to deter predators from calving and
lambing areas in areas with low to moderate potential or current wolf activity.
In addition, this design works great for deterring bears from beehives and
chicken coops.
9 – 11 wire design, 60" – 72" fence height – Most effective
design to deter wolves and bears when predator activity or risk is high.


Temporary Fencing Options for Predators

For temporary fencing, fladry can be used to deter wolves and other
predators. Fladry is a line of wire strung with long flags or streamers
used to deter predators from livestock. The advantage of fladry is it is
portable, temporary, and does not require much planning. While it is only
a short-term deterrent, fladry has been shown to deter wolves for up to
60 days and much longer when electrified.


Potential fladry users should be aware that problems with deployment,
tangling, power drainage, general availability, and high initial capital
and labor costs are associated with this method. But because of its
portability and temporary nature, many ranchers in western states have
found fladry to be an effective livestock protection tool from predators,
especially wolves.

Fortunately, bears are not good jumpers. Therefore, electric fences
designed solely for deterring bears are simpler to design. Bears are
usually very cautious and curious. However, food conditioned bears can
be much more difficult to deter. • Portable Fencing: For remote, short
term camps (e.g., hunting/ recreational camps), a three wire fence can
effectively deter bears. Wires are spaced at 25 cm (10 inches),
58 cm (23 inches) and 91 cm (36 inches) from the ground up. Lightweight,
compact energizers are available and you can run them off of D cell
batteries. Fiberglass or plastic posts are the lightest and most effective
for this system. Tie flagging tape to the top wire so that bears can see it
and focus their curiosity to that point. • Temporary or Permanent Fencing:

For fencing attractants such as poultry, beehives, remote cabins or
landfills, a six wire ground-return system is recommended. The bottom
wire is a ground (-) wire and placed 5 cm (2 inches) off the ground.
This wire can even contact the ground to increase fence grounding.
The second wire from the bottom is hot (+) and spaced 10 cm (4 inches)
above the first. The third wire from the bottom is ground (-) and spaced
15 cm (6 inches) above the second. The remaining three wires are
spaced 25 cm (10 inches) apart to a total height of 107 cm (42 inches).

Coyotes and foxes usually penetrate fences by digging or crawling
under the bottom wire. It is extremely important to level the fence line
properly. The fence line must be even enough to run a charged hot (+)
wire a maximum of 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) above the ground. An
uneven fence line may allow coyotes and foxes to get under the wire.
If the charged hot (+) wire touches the soil or snow, the voltage may be
inadequate to keep animals out. Maintenance is required to keep
vegetation off the bottom hot (+) wire. In winter, you can install a relay
switch to change the bottom wire(s) from hot (+) to ground (-) as
needed with compacting snow loads. A nine-wire electric fence is
recommended to deter wolves, coyotes and foxes. A fence of this
nature will also work to deter bears, but not cougars.

For cougars, the same principles apply; however, add wires to bring
the fence to a height of 10 feet. The fence should have wires spaced
(from bottom to top) 8 cm, 13 cm, 13 cm, 15 cm, 15 cm, 20 cm, 25 cm,
36 cm, 38 cm (3 inches, 5 inches, 5 inches, 6 inches, 6 inches, 8 inches,
10 inches, 14 inches, 15 inches) apart for a total height of 2 m (6 feet).
This is the minimum height needed to prevent wolves, coyotes and foxes
from jumping the fence. Make sure the mesh or single wires are taut.
A ground-return fence design is best for wolves, coyotes and foxes.
Wires should alternate between hot (+) and ground (-), beginning with
a hot (+) wire at the bottom. If the wires are placed with the correct
spacing, they will split the fur of the animal and touch the skin,
completing the circuit and delivering a shock even if the animal is not
touching the ground.


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